When Pirate Groups Recruit on the Dark Web – IT SOCIAL

The dark side of the web is looking for high potential profiles, especially developers, as well as attackers to infiltrate the IT ecosystem, as well as website builders. Salaries are attractive, but, of course, without an employment contract and with huge risks.

“For a large project, I am looking for experienced and enthusiastic programmers who will not mind my questions of any kind. The ideal person should have all the web development skills. Contact me on Discord.” This is the type of offer that can be found on dark web forums.

The research by Kaspersky Lab published on is interesting in many ways and concerns the analysis of 55 forums on the dark web from January 2020 to June 2022 that offer full-time positions. Developers make up 61% of lists, penetration testers make up 16% of lists, and web designers make up 10%.

The main “employers” of the darknet are hacking teams and APT (Advanced Persistent Threat) groups, who are looking for people who are able to develop and use malicious code, experts in IT infrastructures. Most of the announcements were published in March 2020, which is likely due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes in the structure of the labor market.

Developers also topped the list of the highest paid IT jobs on the dark web, with the highest monthly salary listed in the study for a developer being $20,000, a figure that should be treated with caution. The average wage (half earn more, half earn less) ranges from $1,300 to $4,000. The highest salary, $4,000, is for reverse engineering specialists in methods of understanding IT infrastructures and bypassing security features.

Why do some coders go illegal

Many are attracted by the hope of easy money. Most of the time, this is just an illusion, according to the survey, because the salaries offered on the dark web rarely exceed what programmers can legally earn. Dissatisfied with their remuneration or feeling that their employer treats them badly, a significant proportion of programmers leave their legal jobs for illegal work on the darknet market. During the recruitment process, applicants go through a selection cycle with executable encryption or security breach tests, with a trial period of support.

Candidates are often offered only commissions, apparently without an employment contract. Quite often there is no compensation. Hired candidates sometimes work for free, for a promised commission, or for a share of the ransom collected. The risks of illegal work always outweigh the benefits. The absence of an employment contract releases employers from any liability. First of all, no group of digital pirates is immune from liquidation through legal proceedings, up to and including imprisonment. In January, the FBI, Europol and other international police agencies blocked the Hive group’s website.

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